St. Thomas Aquinas is part of Independence Mission Schools (IMS) network, which assumed management of 13 Philadelphia Catholic schools last year that serve predominantly low-income and minority students. IMS is identifying opportunities to provide a high-quality education to more students while instituting strong business practices in order to achieve financial stability. As we have seen in most turnaround schools, we expect the transformation initiative to result in increased enrollment of up to 30 percent.
The school currently serves 240 students but has the capacity to serve as many as 450 students. The student body is 90 percent low-income and racially diverse: 63 percent of students are non-Catholic, 48 percent are African American, 34 percent are Asian and 17 percent are Hispanic.
The school’s new principal, Vince Mazzio, joined the school in the fall of 2013 and is preparing to lead a dramatic turnaround in academic performance with the support of IMS. Last year, PSP made an investment in DePaul Catholic School, another IMS network school, to implement a blended-learning model that has resulted in dramatic academic gains as well as an increase in enrollment of over 100 students in just one year. With this investment, the school leader and IMS will develop a transformational plan that we hope will result in dramatic increases in student achievement.